Accepted paper:

New townscape - creating pastness and reframing identity

Authors:

Vilhelmina Jonsdottir (University of Iceland)

Paper short abstract:

The paper analyses contrasting perspectives on the use of historical designs in creating a new townscape aimed at effecting a sense of pastness for the benefit of the local population, business and tourism. The new historical town centre will reframe the towns image and its inhabitant's identity.

Paper long abstract:

Selfoss, a small municipality in southern Iceland, is introducing a plan for a new "historical" town centre. The proposed plan includes a cluster of 31 building, all recreations of older wooden structures in Iceland, recognised as significant for the country's architectural history. All of the buildings, which were originally located in various parts of Iceland, have at some stage been destroyed, either by fire or demolition. The paper introduces a case study based on in-depth interviews. The research interrogates different perspectives voiced by stakeholders and locals focusing on conceptualizations of cultural heritage, authenticity, and how historical design is used to create a new townscape aimed at effecting a sense of pastness for the benefit of the local population, business and tourism. Drawing on Holtorf (2013) the paper discusses if and how a sense of pastness can be created with replicas of historic structures, i.e. where the age of the structures is not the focus point but rather the age-value and the quality of being (of the) past. One of the key factors in creating a sense of pastness is the audience's perception of the past. The interviews indicate the importance of the planned reconstruction to be consistent with the audience's imagination of the past in order to be rendered believable, i.e. to be in line with common history knowledge and in accordance with the stereotypical image of the past. Consequently, creating a sense of pastness fails if these requirements are not met.

panel Econ04
"Bring back my neighbourhood!": heritage, expressive cultures and the production of urban ambiances for tourist consumption in the contemporary city